Gallery: Please visit the gallery to view images in full size. From the gallery, you will be able to add the images to the shopping cart and checkout. YouTube: I have a YouTube Channel (Hari PHL) where I post videos once a week. Please subscribe to my channel and share my videos. I appreciate your support. Thank you for visiting my site.
As a photographer, whether you’re a freelancer or working for a company, most of your projects are likely to be very short term, with many lasting a day or less! Whether you’re working at a wedding, running a fashion photoshoot or doing product photography, most of the time you’re up against the clock as you meet the requirements of your clients.
However, when you always work on short term projects you don’t have the opportunity to fully explore an issue, topic or concept. This can lead to your work becoming disjointed and unconnected and leave you having a tough time finding the inspiration that’s vital to continue growing as a photographer.
Why Commit To Undertaking Longer Term Photography Projects – Either Commercial or Personal?
There’s many reasons why it’s a good idea, for both your creativity and your career, to undertake larger, long term projects. At the level of personal development, when you work on a long term project you will be giving yourself the time and scope to deeply explore the issue, subject or genre you are working on.
As a photographer you can still create a powerful series of images on a single day photoshoot but there is no way you can compare the outcome to a project that lasts months, or even years!
Working on a longer term project will help you to develop your own style within your niche. This will serve you well throughout your career as your work becomes more recognizable and starts to really stand out.
A long term project leaves plenty of room for you to evolve as you progress through it. The chances are that many of the photos you took in the early days of the project won’t stand up to scrutiny by the time you are reaching the end! This is because your skills, vision and approach will have changed and improved as you go along.
When you work on a project for a longer amount of time you’ll have the room to experiment and try out new things. This is exciting and will always improve your skills and style which makes it an invaluable opportunity for any photographer.
As a photographer you always need to be cognisant of the financial implications of your work. When you take on a long term project, whether it’s commercial or personal in nature, you can develop a secure income over a long period of time.
Personal projects can often be harder to monetize but with good marketing and communication skills you can still make it work for you. A commercial project, will by its very nature, be far more lucrative and so if you can secure a long term contract you can really throw yourself into it while earning a good living.
What’s the Difference Between a Photoshoot and a Long Term Project?
Fundamentally, a photoshoot is a one off event that can take place over a period of hours! You may have a one hour photoshoot where you produce a series of portraits of your subject, or a product photoshoot where you aim to take a few high quality images of a particular product.
A long term project on the hand is a far deeper exploration of a topic and theoretically there is no time limit! Usually, a long term project will not last more than a year however there’s no reason why you can’t go above this. Certain topics lend themselves to longer time scales than others; so it’s crucial that you don’t stretch out the project for longer than it needs to be.
That said, for many topics, you will be required to work on the project for a long time. For example, if you were doing a project based on the changes of the seasons in your town or city, then you will need to work on it for at least a year so that you can capture the four seasons in full.
How Do You Choose the Right Long Term Photography Project?
The Project Should Be Exciting and Energizing
The project should be engaging for your audience but it should also feel exciting and energizing for you! If your project doesn’t capture your imagination then you will soon get bored of it and it will start to show through in your photos. Working on a long term project is a fantastic way to develop your skills however if you choose the wrong one then it can seriously backfire! You need to choose a subject for your project that will not only hold your interest but still leaves plenty of room for adaptation, evolution and development.
Ask Yourself Why You Are Drawn To The Project
Before you commit to a project ask yourself why you want to take it on. What is that attracts you to the subject and how do you envision that you can put your own personal touch to it? Remember, you want your project to stand out from the competition so unless you can see at least one way that you can add something really unique to it then it may not be worth the time and energy you’ll have to expend.
When you’re thinking about taking on a project you should sit down and make some notes. Doing some brainstorming, where you write down everything that comes to mind in relation to the subject, is a great way of deciding whether or not you can bring something new to the concept.
Don’t be afraid of a challenge though because this will help you to grow at the fastest rate; however, just be sure that you are passionate about the project because this will get you through those moments of doubt that could derail an otherwise superb project.
Ensure that the Project is Focused and the Objectives are Clear.
When you take on a long term project it’s easy to get lost in the details and over time you may start to lose your focus. This is one of the hardest aspects of undertaking a larger project because unless you can stay focused the finished result will be disconnected and confusing.
Before you start the project, spend some time to really clarify the objectives in your own mind and then write them down – almost like a business plan! Whenever you feel yourself starting to stray from the objectives you can refer back to your list to refocus.
Part of the objectives of your project should often be to improve certain aspects of your photography. This might mean working hard on composition, exposure, post production editing or any other element of photography.
As you work through the project assess how well you are meeting these objectives. Always praise yourself when you are achieving your goals because this will make it far easier to stay focused and motivated as you acknowledge your successes along the way.
What Kind of Skills Can You Acquire in a Long Term Project?
There’s no limit to what you can learn as you embark and work through a longer term project. To make the most of the experience, before you start, you should have an idea of what you want to achieve.
Some of the main skill groups that you can work on and improve during a long term project might include:
- Creativity and the ability to put your ideas into action in new and exciting ways.
- You can significantly improve all aspects of your technical photographic skills as you focus on a particular subject over a longer period of time.
- Patience, concentration and dedication will be required to achieve a successful result and as long as you can stay motivated you’ll see these aspects of your work improving rapidly.
- Your attention to detail will become more honed and intense as you try to keep the central themes of the project consistent and on point.
- You may need to network during your project with other photographers, venues, models or exhibition sites. These interpersonal communication skills will serve you well throughout your career and you are bound to make useful new contacts as you progress.
- Planning and organization are fundamental skills that you’ll need to develop to make sure your project turns out the way you envisioned it. Committing to a long term project will force you to improve in these areas!
Don’t Be Afraid to Expand the Project!
If you’ve been working on a project for a while already and things are going well then don’t rule out the idea of expanding it! As you start to really get into the concept of the project you may well find that new ideas are coming to you at a rate of knots.
Be careful not to divert your project too much from its original objectives but there is still room to change and develop the idea as you become immersed in it. Trust your gut instincts and, if it feels right, be ready to incorporate new elements into the project as it gains momentum.
5 Ideas for Long Term Photography Projects.
- 365 Day Project: This is one of the most popular types of long term personal projects that photographers take on. There are many ways that you can set up the ‘rules’ of the project. For example, you could choose to take one photo every day for a year that represents the events of the day! This is harder than it sounds because you’ll really have to editorialize and select only those moments that are significant or meaningful. Alternatively, you could take one photo of life in your city that represents the day. If you want to keep the number of photos in the series down to a lower number you could choose to take one photo per week and finish the year with 52 photos, or even one photo per month!
- Self Portraits: Another interesting personal project you can embark on is to create a series of creative self portraits over a period of time. Each day, week, or month, you could take a self portrait that really tries to push the boundaries of your own creativity and technical skills. Try to never repeat the same camera set up, lighting or conditions so that you can really see development at the end of the project. There is no limit to how long you can do a project like this although setting yourself a target at the start is usually the best way to ensure that you stay motivated and keep pushing yourself to improve throughout.
- Four Seasons Project: As one of the most iconic themes in photography you can decide to do a four seasons project where you capture the changing weather, lighting and natural conditions throughout the year. Although it sounds simple it’s a good challenge to try to show your audiences how the seasons impact your city. There’s a huge scope for creativity within a broad project like this one however your project will produce more impactful results if you keep the focus within a sub theme – for instance, the seasons in the park, at a train station or at a local landmark.
- Create a Texture Library: This is a project that will serve you for the rest of your career and can be utilized later in personal and commercial ways. Creating a texture library is one way of supercharging your editing in post production and gives you the opportunity to make your photos look distressed or artistic. Although you can actually find free textures online it’s a fun and challenging project to try creating your own unique selection that you can fall back on later. These textures can be added to your photos by using the layering features in your editing software.
- Self Publish a Book: If you’ve already got a good back catalog of photos then you can start to create your own photo books. These books will be an interesting way to put your work together and can also be sold to raise money for future projects you may have planned. There’s a lot of different ways that you can put your books together by using themes, narrative structures or as a collection of the best of your work during a particular period of time.
Long Term Photography Projects Help You Grow As A Photographer.
Long term projects are a big commitment but with passion, dedication and determination to go above and beyond you can end up with astounding results that will help to promote you as a photographer and build your audience.
When you set yourself a long term challenge you’ll have to overcome technical, creative and practical obstacles but as you do so you’ll be able to deeply explore subjects in a way that you never could in a single photoshoot. Always leave room to experiment and expand the scope of your project so can be as creative as possible! There’s never been a better moment to start your own long term personal or commercial photography project than now, so why not start your planning today?
Have you undertaken any long term photography projects?